There is no denying we live in an electronic age where relationships are sometimes mistakenly judged by the number of “friends” we have on social media sites. The truth is that the well-being of our hearts and minds require the intimacy only personal, real-life connections can provide.
Partnering with personal trainer and multi-published author Maryann Karinch, Trevor Crow and Maryann detail how to enhance and invigorate the precious commodity of human worth and contact in their book “Forging Healthy Connections: How Relationships Fight Illness, Aging and Depression.” Inside this remarkable book readers will find true-life accounts of people whose lives have changed by embracing their emotional needs and letting love in. Trevor and Maryann explore the how-to for building relationships, and the all-important maintaining those established connections.
“Forging Healthy Connections” is about taking back control of what we each need to live healthy, productive lives. It is about the happiness and hope found within personal bonds, and providing the framework to achieve personal connections that will lead to a lifetime of fulfillment and satisfaction in who we are.
Trevor Crow, LMFT, hosts “Keeping Connected,” a weekly radio show about relationships, and is a licensed marriage and family therapist. Crow has a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Fairfield University, Connecticut and also holds an MBA from Harvard University and a BS from Parsons the New School of Design. She practices and resides in Southport, Connecticut. www.TrevorCrow.com
Maryann Karinch is the author of 18 books, most of which focus on human behavior, and is the founder of The Rudy Agency, a literary agency specializing in nonfiction. She holds bachelors and masters degrees from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and is a certified personal trainer. She lives in Estes Park, Colo.
Q) The book opens with “we are built for relationships.” What do you mean by that?
A) Our bodies thrive when we have great relationships. They suffer when we don’t. The need for connection with other beings permeates the human body. Our bonds with other people profoundly affect our immune system — and we have a lot of science to back that up! In other words, relationships directly affect the mechanisms in our body that restore health and keep us healthy — and that make us sick. Health and healing benefit from positive thinking, but thinking isn’t what sustains them — it’s feeling. What gives our immune system juice is connecting intimately with another human being. The assumption that you are better off pursuing answers to all your problems intellectually is ruinous to relationships and to your health.
Q) What are the top five themes that you explore in the book?
A) Medicine is a left-brained discipline; healing is a right-brained process.
Page 2 of 2 - Healthy habits come from choices; physical well-being comes from feelings.
Stress is vital to self-defense; stress is lethal to health and healing.
Autonomy is vital for a human being; vulnerability is vital to connecting with another human being.
Cars are built so they can be fixed; people are built so they can regenerate.
Q) Why are you critical of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, or CBT?
A) “Deciding” and “thinking” alone don’t make people change. If you tell a cigarette smoker, “Stop smoking. Just make a decision and do it,” that will not work. People don’t make a big change unless they are emotionally invested in it. You can decide to stop smoking, but the thread running through the decision and the result is emotion. Try telling a toddler to stop screaming in the middle of a tantrum; it doesn’t work. A smoker is as emotionally invested in smoking as the toddler is in throwing the tantrum. Neither can cognitively turn off their behavior.
Now here’s the problem with people getting some kind of talk therapy, including Emotionally-Focused Therapy, which is what Trevor practices. There is a widespread acceptance in our culture — reinforced by lots of self-help books — that thinking through problems, deciding to change, positive thinking and so on, yield measurable results. As a result, therapy like CBT that is thought-based is reimbursable by insurance companies. Even though the patient’s change may be short term, the change occurred and is documented, making therapy like CBT “evidence-based.” But the reality is, change actually involves emotions.
Q) You say that if one generation is stressed out, that can affect the health of the next generation — and even more than that. How does that work?
A) This is the science of epigenetics. Basically, everyone has a certain genetic make-up, but just because we have a particular gene doesn’t mean it’s expressed. Angelina Jolie had a preventative double mastectomy because she has the BRCA1 gene and her doctors estimated that she had an 87 percent risk of breast cancer. That meant there was only a 13 percent chance the BRCA1 gene would not express itself.
Various factors can cause genes to be activated or deactivated, so they either do or don’t express themselves. We don’t have all answers on why yet, but we do know that our responses to environmental stimuli — like hunger or war that cause stress — can effect activation or deactivation. A pregnant woman’s response to stress can trigger that activation or deactivation, and that affects the fetus. If the fetus is female, she has the ability to pass along the change to her children, too, so the change becomes an inheritable trait.
DA Kentner is an award-winning author. www.kevad.net